THE heartache wrought on the loved ones of a father, 24, killed at a Benalla timber mill has been aired in court.
Victim impact statements of the partner of Rasta Kemp and her mother were voiced in Wangaratta Court on Thursday after a North East labour hire company pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe workplace.
Recruitment Select had placed Mr Kemp at the D&R Henderson mill and through its plea admitted it was unaware he had been switched from the cut-to-size section to the dry mill area.
It was in that part of the factory that Mr Kemp suffered fatal injuries after working on an unguarded area of a machine in which his clothing was caught.
Victorian Workcover Authority prosecutor Simone Tatas said Recruitment Select had failed a fundamental requirement.
"A labour hire company has a positive duty to ensure the safety of the hired workers," Ms Tatas said.
"They have a positive duty to directly supervise and monitor and that includes ensuring that the premises and the work done, including plant, are safe and don't pose a threat to the workers."
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Magistrate David Faram agreed, saying "they can't throw their hands in the air and say 'we weren't told' when there is a positive obligation on them to make their own inquiries".
The company's barrister Sam Stafford said such terminology did not apply to Recruitment Select.
"This client did not throw up its hands and say 'we're not looking', this client had systems in place - they were inadequate, that is accepted on the plea....but this client was not aware of a risk in the place in which Mr Kemp was directed to work," Mr Stafford said.
Mr Stafford said Recruitment Select operated under a not-for-profit model and had been placing workers in a variety of industries for 16 years and it's "not insignificant that it had never come before the court before".
Before Mr Faram adjourned the case for sentencing, Ms Tatas read out victim impact statements from Mr Kemp's girlfriend Ebony Clark and her mother Michelle Craig.
Ms Clark told of the toll endured by her and their son Oliver, who was two when his father died and had since become "more angry than he was before".
I have struggled a lot since I lost Rasta, I was diagnosed with major anxiety and depression and I still have days where I feel down," Ms Clark said.
"I had some counselling but I didn't like, I just felt it was bringing everything up again.
"For the first year and a half I wasn't sleeping at all."
Ms Clark said she had lost friends through pushing them away and struggled financially initially.
"Rasta was an amazing dad, he was nice to everyone and he was really funny," she said.
"It makes me really angry that over someone else's mistake he does not get to watch his son grow up and enjoy his own life."
Ms Craig described Mr Kemp as a "very kind-hearted man who would do anything for anyone".
Recruitment Select will be sentenced later this month.
D&R Henderson has also been charged by Workcover in connection to Mr Kemp's death, with its matters to return to Wangaratta Court in August.